2018-03-09 / Business

Riverbanks expands executive division of senior leaders

Story and photos contributed by Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Dave Ruhl is the newest member of the Riverbanks family. He joined the Zoo’s flock of senior leaders in January as chief operating officer.

Ruhl moved to Columbia from West Palm Beach, Florida, where he served as director of Facilities and Construction at the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society. An active member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Safety Committee and Green Scientific Advisory Group, he began his tenure in the zoo industry in 2001 as construction project manager at the Toledo Zoo.

While at Toledo, Ruhl was promoted to assistant director of facility construction and was integral in advancing the use of green construction technologies in zoo projects and exhibits. He also has an extensive background in capital project development, strategic planning, and emergency response and preparedness. In addition, Ruhl has 15 years of combined civil engineering and consulting experience.

With nearly 40 years of experience in the zoological profession, Ed Diebold has been promoted to chief life sciences officer. Ed began his tenure at Riverbanks in August 1995 as director of animal collections and conservation. He started his career at the St. Louis Zoo in 1979 as a bird keeper, and in May 1986 became curator of birds at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

A conservationist at heart, Diebold has contributed to the successful reintroduction of trumpeter swans in Wisconsin and scientific studies of the Humboldt penguin in Chile. He has been an active member of the AZA since 1983—and currently serves as advisor to the association's accreditation committee.

A past chair of the accreditation committee, Diebold also has participated in more than 20 accreditation teams. In addition, he has served on the AZA’s Ethics Board, assumed the role of species survival plan coordinator for the Cinereous Vulture and chaired the AZA Wildlife Conservation and Management Com- mittee, Raptor Taxon Advisory Group, and Conservation Action Partnership: North America.

Diebold and his team at Riverbanks have been instrumental in advancing the Satch Krantz Conservation Fund (formerly Riverbanks Conservation Support Fund) that to-date has contributed nearly $1-million to some 250 conservation projects in 36 countries around the globe.

Chr istie Vondrak, Riverbanks’ chief human resources officer, has been a dedicated member of the Zoo family for more than 10 years. Vondrak began her career at Riverbanks in December 2006 as volunteer manager, and in 2012 her hard work and service earned her the title of human resources manager. Vondrak was promoted to director of human resources in 2016.

The University of South Carolina alumna also is an active member of the Society for Human Resources Management and a professional affiliate member of the AZA.

The Zoo also is pleased to announce the promotion of Lochlan Wooten to Chief Marketing Officer. Wooten began her career at Riverbanks in 2009 as events manager, and in 2016 she earned the title of director of marketing.

Now as chief marketing officer, Wooten oversees communications and public relations, events, guest engagement, and Riverbanks Society. She is a graduate of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, and is an active member of the Palmetto Chapter of the Washington and Lee University Alumni Association. Wooten also is a professional affiliate member of the AZA.

In addition, Riverbanks Society, the private nonprofit organization supporting the needs of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden through membership and fundraising, has announced its slate of executive officers for 2018, as well as two new Board members.

Executive officers:

• President Derrick L. Williams, Mickle & Bass

• Vice-President J. Anderson Folsom, Blue- Cross BlueShield of South Carolina

• Secretary Susan S. Keenan, Hammond School

• Treasurer Marie McGehee, Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company

New Board members:

• Cecilia Fournil, Vista Insurance Company

• Shelby Kay Leonardi, USC School of Law

Visit Riverbanks online to view the entire list of 2018 Society Board members.

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